How to Connect Anything to the Internet

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With the Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M movements exploding, there is an increasing interest in connecting devices to other devices or devices to humans via the Internet.  I had a good experience with that recently when I acquired a video camera that connects over the Internet to a smartphone or tablet.  It works great.  More and more the chip companies and others are also addressing this massive new market.

The video camera I tried out is sold as a baby monitor by networking company D-Link.  Their DCS-825L is a day and night HD cloud camera.  The camera unit itself features IR light and sensors so can see in the dark.  The resolution is excellent.  The camera also has built in microphone and temperature sensors so you can hear as well as see and gauge warm or cool.  The camera links to the Internet via an available Wi-Fi link.

To see what is going on, you download the monitor app for your cell phone or tablet from the Apple or Google apps stores.  It installs easily.  When in range of the Wi-Fi connection, the app communicates over the local link.  When away, the connection is over the cellular network so you can theoretically see what the camera sees from anywhere there is a cell connection.

While my wife and I no longer have babies at home, we could still monitor the house when away for the weekend.  It is a good example of what can be done remotely via the Internet.  I highly recommend this unit if you are looking for a remote viewing camera, baby or no baby. There are other similar units available as well but I have no experience with them.

An example of a chip company making Internet connectivity fast and easy is Texas Instruments.  Their new SimpleLink Wi-Fi family provides a single chip that lets you easily incorporate an Internet connection to virtually any product.  These chips come in a QFN package and feature very low power consumption for battery operated devices and flexibility to be used in home, industrial or consumer electronic devices.  All the Internet connectivity components are fully integrated.

The SimpleLink comes in two versions.  The CC3100 lets you use any embedded controller including TI’s MPS430.  The CC3200 comes with TI’s own version of an integrated ARM Cortex M4 MCU.  The SimpleLink Wi-Fi family comes with cloud connectivity support through TI’s IoT cloud ecosystem members.

TI also offers a wide range of starter kits, software, reference designs, development support and documentation.  Fully certified modules will be available in the fall.  Even with no Wi-Fi RF experience you can still enable any product with an Internet connection with the SimpleLink system.  Check it out at www.ti.com/simplelink.

Get ready for a wave IoT products and services.  My first impression was that IoT was a gimmick.  I have always been of the opinion that even if you can do something technologically doesn’t mean that you should.  However, now that I have experienced IoT, I am a believer and supporter. A cool technology.

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Lou Frenzel

Lou Frenzel is the Communications Technology Editor for Electronic Design Magazine where he writes articles, columns, blogs, technology reports, and online material on the wireless, communications...
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